Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Marissa Bergman

Theatre major Marissa Bergman has extended her Wheaton studies by spending a semester at the National Theater Institute in Connecticut, getting involved with Norton Youth Theater and undertaking a variety of summer internships with the support of Wheaton funding.

A peak experience: My favorite acting role at Wheaton was playing Gwendolyn Fairfax in The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. It was an incredibly fun show, and the cast grew really close. I have been told that I brought a level of sassiness to the character that no one had seen in her before. The costume designer decided I needed some leopard print shoes, because Gwendolyn was too sassy not to own them.

Both sides now: Charlotte Meehan’s “Advanced Playwriting” course asked me to approach one of my biggest fears. Writing a play for the New Plays Festival was both a terrifying and a rewarding experience that I would never give up. I have also done stage-managing for the Trybe 2011 Gala, and this has been an invaluable opportunity. I try to expose myself to all aspects of theater.

Best thing about Wheaton: I love that I know my professors and can drop by a theater professor’s office to talk about a problem I am having in class, or to ask for life advice. I also really appreciate the funding I have received from Wheaton, [which] has allowed me to work at the Seattle Shakespeare Company and be an apprentice at New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theater.

Rare opportunity: Last year I directed Melancholy Play: A Farce by Sarah Ruhl. I was the first junior in recent memory to direct a play, and it was one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable experiences I have had at Wheaton. I cast quite a few people who had not yet been in a Wheaton production. It turned out to be a wonderful cast that could work and play together to make a beautiful, heartfelt, cotton-candy-colored farce about human emotion.

Favorite class? I took “Introduction to Design” with Assistant Professor Clinton O’Dell and loved it so much that I am now taking “Intermediate Stage Design.” The projects asked students to analyze a text (a poem, song, story, etc.) and respond to it visually. This allowed me to combine my knowledge of theater, art and text analysis to make works of art. The discussions about what we had made were the most valuable parts of the class.

Down the road: I am embracing the terror of not knowing what I am going to do after graduation. My solid plan is to move to New York and apply for internships at theater companies. From there, who knows? I love all aspects of theater and intend to explore everything. I’ll see where life takes me.